Thursday, June 19, 2008

17-0

This one didn't look good. A couple of runs given up early, we come back, then my kid blows up on the mound in the third inning, lets five runs in. He comes off blinking rapidly.

"Hang in there," I tell him. "We need you again next inning."

We're at bat, bases loaded, two outs, he goes down looking. Only his fourth strikeout of the year. Blinking more rapidly now.

"Hang in there," I tell him again. "We still need you."

He looks at me, so crestfallen it almost breaks my heart.

"You were batting right into the sun, weren't you?" I ask him. He nods, afraid to say anything, knowing that excuses don't interest me.

"You're pitching now," I tell him. "Their batters are staring at the sun too."

He pauses. Thinks. Walks to the mound. Three up, three down and we're out of trouble for now, but still only up a little.

Our half of the inning, no runs in yet, a batter who's still looking for his groove, he gets a foul tip, then a foul ball, the only real contact he's made since the first game, enough to send our cheering squad into a frenzy, then a walk. Another couple runners get on, then a kid, one of the younger ones, his grandparents are there tonight, he rips a base hit to score a couple runs. Then more base runners, then one of our guys tees off for his fourth or fifth triple of the year, he still can't get his double, and we're ahead, far enough the other team can't catch up even with another inning to play.

I walk to the sidelines to talk to the kid who drove in the first two runs, he's chattering excitedly at his grandmother.

"This boy's turned into quite a ballplayer," I say. "Go ahead, buddy, tell them how much you love baseball."

"Basketball's my favorite sport," he says.

"That's fine, basketball's a great game. But you love baseball too, right?"

"Football's my second favorite," he says.

"You're killing me here," I say, as his dad laughs. "Just tell me how much you love baseball."

"It's okay."

"I'm going to leave you on the bus," I tell him. He's riding on the bus with me tomorrow night when the whole team, the whole league, goes down to watch a major league game.

"What?" he asks.

"I'm going to fill you full of hot dogs at the game and then leave you on the bus until you tell me you love baseball."

"No beer after the sixth inning," his mother says.

"For me or him?" I ask her.

"Him," she says. "Family rule. He has an early day on Saturday."

"Perfect," I say. "He's driving anyway."

"What?" he says again, in that nervous way second graders have when adults start talking crazy.

"You're a good ballplayer," I tell him again.

"Thanks," he says.

"Thank you," I tell him.

The end of our season is coming soon, another week or so. We have five games left, with a couple tough teams scattered in there. Coach P. and I are coaching an all star team this year when regular season ends. Our sons are playing, and the kid who likes to hit triples, and another boy from our team, and seven other kids from other teams we don't know as well. They're all good ballplayers, drafted after a year's worth of scouting and tryouts. They'll play in districts, and either the state tournament if they do well enough or a metro area tournament if they don't quite make it. Everyone on the all star team can catch and hit and pitch. They all seem like good kids. We have our first practice tomorrow and I guess we'll find out.

In the meantime, we are thankful.

4 comments:

billy pilgrim said...

No beer after the sixth inning?

That's not the America I knew. The terrists have won.

Kathleen said...

good luck with the all-stars. Should be very interesting.

fish said...

I expect college scouts will be in the stands soon.

Adorable Girlfriend said...

I was thinking that too, Fish.